If you enjoyed joining our series of live events with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, you’ll love DWF LIVE! Each month, Indigenous artists and leaders will join us for live performances, storytelling, and more as we continue to explore how we can all move reconciliation forward through awareness, education and action. 

Learn more about the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund: https://downiewenjack.ca/

Become a Legacy School: https://downiewenjack.ca/our-work/legacy-schools-programs/

Upcoming Events

Dawn Hill | Author of Memory Keeper

November 29th @ 1:00pm eastern

Dawn is a member of the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a Registered Social Worker (RSW). She currently works at the Six Nations Family Health Team which is located in historical downtown Ohsweken, as a clinical social worker. Dawn grew up at the Tuscarora Reservation in Lewiston, New York. 

Dawn has been writing short memoir stories about her family and her time growing up with thirteen siblings, for the past fifteen years. Memory Keeper is her first published collection. Dawn’s stories depict anecdotes, however comedic or horrific from her life on the Rez. These stories helped her to circumnavigate constructively the residual pain and dysfunction that is the legacy of the Residential School System. 

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Jennifer Podemski | Founder and CEO of Redcloud Studios Inc.

December 6th @ 1:00pm eastern

Jennifer is an Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi actor, writer, director and producer with a 30+ year career. Her on screen credits include Dance Me Outside, The Rez, Degrassi TNG, Blackstone, Empire of Dirt, Departure and Reservation Dogs. 

Through her production company Redcloud Studios Inc., Jennifer has been at helm of a variety of television series including: The Seventh Generation, Rabbit Fall, The Other Side, Moccasin Flats, and Future History (Canadian Screen Award 2020 for best director Factual) and the acclaimed feature film Empire of Dirt which Jennifer was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture. More recently, Jennifer wrote, directed and produced Unsettled a ten-part drama series for TV Ontario and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and is in pre-production with Little Bird, a limited dramatic series for Crave and APTN.

In 2020, Jennifer launched The Shine Network Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating Indigenous women in film and television through training, mentorship and professional development.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Métis Santa

December 13th @ 1:00pm eastern

Lloyd Gwin first volunteered to play Santa in the 1970s, he loved it, Since then he would ride around on a snowmobile delivering presents to families of his colleagues at the volunteer fire department in High Level, Alberta. Last year, he was able to fulfil his dream of being what he calls Métis Santa. A Métis Santa wears a sash rather than a belt, mittens and moccasins instead of gloves and boots. Join Lloyd as he reads Métis Christmas Mittens by Leah Marie Dorion and then takes questions from students about Métis Christmas. In the Metis Culture, it’s all about being grateful, thanking our Creator for the gifts of family, friends and community and sharing the spirit of the Christmas Season. 

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Past DWF Live Events

Maurice Switzer | Treaties Presentations 

Event for Elementary Students | November 10th @ 10:00am eastern

Event for High School Students | November 10th @ 1:00pm eastern

Maurice Switzer, Bnesi, is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. He currently serves as chair of Nipissing University’s Indigenous Council on Education and as president of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre. At various times he has been a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, an adjunct professor of communications and Indigenous studies on the Laurentian University campus, and a reporter, editor, and publisher at five Canadian daily newspapers.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Secret Path Week

October 18th – 22nd, 2021

Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants is super excited to be working with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) for another series of Secret Path Week virtual education events, taking place from Oct. 18th-22nd, 2021. During Secret Path Week, we’ll be featuring Indigenous-led instruction and education. This will be a valuable way to engage your class in reconciliation and encourage your students to “Do Something”!

DWF is part of musician Gord Downie’s legacy and embodies his commitment, and that of both the Downie and Wenjack families, build cultural understanding and create a path towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The goal of DWF is to continue the conversation that began with Chanie Wenjack’s Residential School story, and to support the reconciliation process through awareness, education, and action.

Secret Path Week is a national movement commemorating the legacies of Gord Downie (d. Oct. 17, 2017) and Chanie Wenjack (d. Oct. 22, 1966). The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund would like to inspire all Canadian classrooms to use this week to answer Gord Downie’s call to action, and “Do Something”.

Your classroom can “Do Something” and become a Legacy School! The Legacy Schools program is a free national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation through awareness, education and action (#reconciliACTION). Upon signing up as a Legacy School, educators will receive a Legacy Schools Toolkit free-of-charge. These toolkits contain resources to engage students, staff, and the school community and act as a catalyst for their commitment to the work of reconciliation.

For more information and to sign up: https://downiewenjack.ca/our-work/legacy-schools-programs/



Virtual Events

All Event Times Listed in Eastern

Angela Miracle Gladue

October 18th @ 10:00am eastern

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Angela is a dancer, choreographer, educator, and artist from Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta – Treaty 6 territory) and is a member of Frog Lake First Nation. She has over 15 years of professional dance experience as an entertainer and has taught in countless schools, Indigenous communities, youth centres and conferences throughout North America since 2004. Angela believes in a responsibility to share the knowledge she has gained and continues to pursue dance education while using her existing skills to mentor others so they can succeed. Currently, Angela tours with the Juno Award winning group A Tribe Called Red and is available for performance opportunities, teaching & speaking engagements.

Ecko Aleck

October 18th @ 11:00am eastern

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Ecko was born into the Nlaka’pamux Nation and raised with the shishalh Nation. She now lives, works and plays on the traditional territories of the Pentlatch, Snaw-Naw-As and Snuneymuxw First Nations. She is a performing artist working through the disciplines of spoken word, rap and singing. She is also a multimedia digital artist working through the mediums of music, sound and video production. In 2016, Ecko graduated from the Art Institute of Vancouver with a diploma in Professional Recording Arts. In 2017 she received the Fred Sheratt MusiCounts Award for Outstanding Recording Arts and Sciences in Toronto, ON. In 2019, Ecko founded Sacred Matriarch Productions.

Ecko is the daughter of a residential school survivor and cycle-breaker for her two young sons. She utilizes her art as a method of healing from intergenerational traumas and believes in using every opportunity to address the dark history Canada was built on. She continues to find new ways that intertwine her love for culture and art including workshop creation and facilitation, program development, art installations, presentations as well as cultural performances and hip-hop shows.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Wesley Hardisty

October 18th @ 12:00pm eastern

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Wesley is a fiddler and composer whose music blends rock, country, folk, Celtic, Métis and Traditional sounds. His passionate playing is compelling to watch, his love of music evident. He is from the Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories. Largely self taught, he took up the fiddle at age thirteen in Fort Simpson through the outreach work of the Kole Crook Fiddle Association. He attended the prestigious Gulf Islands School of Performing Arts on Saltspring Island BC. His debut CD 12:12 won the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award for Best Fiddle CD. Just 26, he has an impressive resume with hundreds of gigs, festivals and TV performances. Wesley creates emotionally evocative music, and is a soulful musician and inspiring young man.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Sandra Sutter

October 18th @ 1:00pm eastern

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Sandra is an award winning Cree Métis recording artist, songwriter and musician who writes, records and performs in multiple genres encompassing roots music; including Native Americana, folk, country, pop, jazz and rock. Raised in a loving non-Indigenous family, Sandra affirmed and embraced her ancestral and cultural roots later in life. Like many displaced Indigenous people, honouring her proud cultural roots is important to a woman whose birth heritage was lost through time and circumstance. Sandra’s culture influences her every step through life and she has grown into an active and passionate advocate for Indigenous traditions and rights. Her life journey in both the non-Indigenous and Indigenous worlds has given her a unique perspective and opportunity to bring people together through her songs of reconciliation.

17 Industry nominations in the last three years include wins for a 2021 SSIMA (Best Métis Artist/Group of the Year), a 2018 NAMA (Best Americana) and 2019 IMA (Best Producer/Engineer). Additional nominations include three YYC Music Awards, 1 additional IMA, a CFMA, three additional NAMA’s, two Blues and Roots radio nods, and four ISMA’s. Ms. Sutter also received an Esquao Award (Arts) from the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, an Aboriginal Role Model of Alberta (Arts) Award and a WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Award.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Orene Askew

October 18th @ 2:00pm eastern

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Orene, aka DJ O Show, is a well-known DJ, a motivational speaker for Indigenous youth, a Squamish Nation councillor, a voice for the two-spirited on a few different LGBTQ+ boards, and a business coach. Coming from a diverse background, she is driven by her passion. Orene is Afro-Indigenous and a proud member of the Squamish Nation. Feeling as though she stood out in a unique way, she embraced both her cultural backgrounds and incorporates the teachings she has learned into everything she does. Orene has experience teaching with an inspired approach. She is an inspirational speaker, having traveled across the country to bring ambition and drive to all generations, and is an elected member of Squamish Nation Council.

Orene has DJ’d the red carpet for Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week and was voted the official DJ for YES in Ottawa since 2012 and the official DJ for Gathering Our Voices for five years. She is the recipient of a 2015 BC Indigenous Business Award, a 2018 Stand Out Award from the Vancouver Pride Society, and a 2021 Alumni of Excellence Award from Capilano University.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Morgan Toney

October 19th @ 2:00pm eastern

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Morgan Toney is a twenty-two year old Mi’kmaq Singer/Songwriter & Fiddler from Wagmatcook First Nation & We’koma’q First Nation. Those two communities are in the middle of Cape Breton Island (Unama’ki) which is in Nova Scotia. Growing up, Morgan found his love for Music after he watched the “Phil Collins Farewell Tour” DVD with his late Uncle Fabian. Starting off a drummer (inspired by Phil Collins’ playing), he decided to take full-time drum lessons with Sean Dalton, who is the former drummer for the Canadian Rock band “The Trews”.  After Morgan realized that he was in love with Cape Breton Fiddle Music and the different styles that can be heard on the island, he decided to make that his #1 priority, to learn it. Morgan’s debut album “First Flight” is focused primarily on Mi’kmaq songs, as well as Fiddle Tunes, most of them being compositions of Morgan’s.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Solomon Ratt & Arden Ogg

October 20th @ 11:00am eastern

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Join in this special event to learn about the Cree language as Solomon shares some stories about his residential school experience from his youth, learn to introduce yourself in Cree and explore the Cree Literacy Network! “kimâmawinikonaw nêhiyawêwin:” the Cree language brings us together. 

Arden is the founding director of the Cree Literacy Network, she was born in Winnipeg, a granddaughter of Scottish homesteaders. She “met Cree” in the Intro Linguistics class of H.C. Wolfart at the University of Manitoba. After a brief study of the powwow music, she was invited in 1983 to join Wolfart’s Cree Language Project, where Freda Ahenakew was then an M.A. student. With help from Wolfart and Ahenakew, she grew into the role of technical assistant, editorial partner and typographer, infected with the passionate commitment and respect of her mentors. In 2010, she envisioned the Cree Literacy Network as a means of creating connections among speakers, teachers and students of Cree across the Prairies. The Network was nationally incorporated as an Indigenous not-for-profit in 2011.  Through her commitment, Arden strives to repay an enormous debt of gratitude.

Solomon has shared many glimpses of his youth through original short stories written in Woodlands Cree (th-dialect), and published on the Cree Literacy Network. A “veteran” of Residential School, he went on to study at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan (which eventually became SIFC, now FNUC). There, as an adult in the classroom of Dr Jean Okimâsis (who remains his hero), he learned to read and write Cree for the first time. He was soon teaching in the Department of Languages, Literature and Linguistics, and continues there to this day. To support and engage aspiring Cree speakers and readers in the classroom and beyond, Sol uses every trick in the book: traditional storytelling, original writing, audio recordings, karaoke, original drawings and stunning photography, and provides them to us to share. Even as he contemplates retirement and life in the mountains, his delight in the Cree language resurgence he has helped to fuel keeps him teaching every single day.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Ray John Jr

October 20th @ 12:00pm eastern

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Ray John Jr. has been in the education field for almost 20 years and works as a child and youth worker with high-risk students. A proud father of two boys, Ray uses a value system based on family as the foundation of his speaking engagements in order to help guide people to this beautiful way of life. Through the creation of a personal medicine shield, his message, based on aboriginal culture and teachings, focuses on the importance of establishing balance in all things by demonstrating respect for others, modeling positive leadership qualities amongst peers, being a good role model for younger students as well as looking after each other and our surroundings. His message is expressed in music, dance and classroom discussions to bring an entertaining and meaningful opportunity to reflect on how we treat each other, and how others might be affected by our actions and words. 

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Julian Taylor

October 20th @ 1:00pm eastern

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Julian Taylor is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter who recently received the Canadian Folk Music Artist of the Year Solo Artist Award. His songs have appeared in television series including Degrassi: The Next Generation, Elementary and Haven. He fronts the Julian Taylor Band, playing an eclectic mix of Americana, funk, soul and rock music.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Nick Sherman

October 20th @ 2:00pm eastern

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Made Of, Nick Sherman’s evocative new album tells stories of the remote north, celebrating the tenacity and resilience it takes to survive it. His gentle voice is rich with honesty and the vitality of youth, but tempered with world-weariness, atop his strong, simple guitar. While he still calls his rural birthplace of Sioux Lookout home, Sherman spent much of his youth out on the land, moving between his hometown, the small First Nation community of Weagamow Lake, and his family’s trapline on North Caribou Lake. It was here in the depths of the Northern Ontario forest that his family members would play guitar as they tended their trapline, and Nick found himself soaking in songs and lyrics. Nick’s music has taken him across the country where he has performed at various events and festivals such as Ottawa Bluesfest, Vancouver Folk Festival, Luminato Festival, and more.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Stan Kapashesit

October 21st @ 9:00am eastern

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Join Stan as he shares what life is like in the remote region of James Bay where the Moose Cree First Nation call home. Stan had the pleasure of getting to know Gord Downie over a number of years as Gord visited the area on several occasions.

Stan is the Director of Economic Development for the Moose Cree First Nation is a proud member of this remote island community in Northern Ontario. Since beginning his tenure, Stan has researched and engaged the community in finding ways to help assist in the high cost of living in this area. One of the challenges is getting freight and items to the island community and he’s exploring solutions through technology. One solution is the use of drones to deliver food and medical supplies as an inexpensive way to deliver supplies to areas that are hard to access. Another is developing greenhouses using hydroponics to grow more fresh food indoors and cut down on the amount of fresh produce that needs to be delivered to the region.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Classic Roots

October 21st @ 11:00am eastern

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Classic Roots brings the heartbeat of the boreal north to life with his unique brand of Electronica and pow wow techno. The Thunder Bay native is an award winning producer and DJ who is impacting the music community with his fresh sound and meaningful collaborations with diverse artists.

Drawing inspiration from his life and culture, Classic Roots established his original sound by integrating First Nations songs with Electronica music. He navigates the unique sound of techno/house music while dancing to the beat of traditional Anishinaabe sounds, establishing a sense of cultural freedom that echoes throughout the electronic music scene. 

In 2015 he was the recipient of the Best Pop CD award at the Indigenous Music Awards for Hack the Planet and his 2016 debut EP Deeply Rooted won Dada Life’s Best Track Award for his demo Coconut Kills. Dada Life received 1500 demos in less than 24 hours but Coconut Kills killed the competition.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Becky Han

October 21st @ 12:00pm eastern

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Becky (Koonoo) Han is a Canadian Inuk singer, songwriter and author originally from Arctic Bay, Nunavut now residing on Treaty 6 territory. Han writes music primarily for adults, acoustic songs with themes of life, love and struggles in Inuktitut. Her award-winning song, “Qaariaq,” was made into a children’s book through Inhabit Media  in 2021. Her two motivations for writing and sharing original music in her native language of Inuktitut are to help keep the language alive, and to feel closer to the community she grew up in.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Aaron Yazzie

October 21st @ 1:00pm eastern

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Aaron is a Mechanical Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He designs, builds, and tests robotic systems to acquire samples of rocks and soil from other planets so that we can study them for science. He has had roles on the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Mission and the InSight Mars Lander. Currently, he is developing the drill bits that will be used on the Mars 2020 Rover. Aaron is Navajo, originally from a small town near the border of the Navajo Nation. He is passionate about spreading the excitement of STEM to students from his home community and across the nation.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Lucia Laford

October 21st @ 2:00pm eastern

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Lucia Laford (Waawaaskone Kwe) is an Anishinaabe and Irish artist from Sault Ste. Marie, ON. She is a proud two-spirit Ojibwe Kwe. Lucia paints in a Woodland style that has been passed down to her by her father. She has a spiritual connection to her work that has been established through her own healing path. She is a passionate Indigenous Arts Educator and loves working with youth and First Nation Communities. Lucia is on the lifelong journey of reclaiming her culture and learning Anishinaabemowin. 

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Harriet Visitor

October 22nd @ 11:00am eastern

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Harriet is the niece of Chanie Wenjack and an experienced educator and community leader continuously striving to improve outcomes for youth. She has over 30 years of experience working in and advocating with and for First Nations communities in education and social development. She has worked in the federal, provincial, and private school systems in Canada, and has been a leader in the development of the Secret Path curriculum that has been distributed nationally. Harriet is a natural leader and advocate and provides incredible guidance to the Downie Wenjack Fund Board as the representative from the Wenjack family.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

Nancy Hollman

October 22nd @ 1:00pm eastern

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Nancy is an Indigenous Specialist-Community Engagement worker with the Canadian Red Cross. She’s a Proud Métis woman who grew up on a farm just outside of Lac La Biche, Alberta. Nancy now resides in Edmonton, AB with her two sons and two beautiful grandchildren. Her first language is Cree, which she understands and speaks fluently. Her language, culture and traditions are very important to her and she shares her love with everyone she can. She was very proud to receive an Award for Culture from the Institute for Advancement of Indigenous Women in 2018. In 1987 Nancy lost her home, and the Canadian Red Cross came to her aid. During this time Nancy told herself that someday she would pay it forward, and that day came in 2016 after the devastating fire in Fort McMurray. As the Indigenous Peoples Officer in that response, Nancy had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with all the Indigenous communities impacted by the fire. She is also working as Emergency Social Responder within Indigenous communities in Canada.

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

G.R. Gritt

October 22nd @ 2:00pm eastern

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Juno Award winning G.R. Gritt pulls effortlessly from the past to create soulful futurisms with their new sound that elegantly weaves the melodies using vocals, guitar and new electronic elements. They create both intimate and anthemic music that would fit in a folk club, a dance club and anywhere in between. G.R. Gritt is a Two-Spirit, Transgender, Francophone, Anishinaabe and Métis artist. After living many years in Yellowknife, they have returned to Sudbury/Robinson Huron Treaty territory where they grew up. This homecoming coincides with a journey that they feel better represents them. With these changes has come a new voice both physically and in the growing magnetism of their songwriting.  

The Northern cities G.R Gritt has lived in forced them every winter through snow and harsh temperatures to make a choice between isolation and seeking community as a source of warmth. Their music serves as one of these beacons of connection for all who come near it. Welcoming yet truthful, they reclaim space through songs that show that intersectional identity is expansive and not to be divided into parts. By exploring the emotional and cultural core of their heritage as a non-binary, queer, Indigenous artist they create new space and encourage others to do the same.

After releasing their first single, “Quiet Years”, November 27, 2020, and their second single, “Doubt It”, February 12, 2021, G.R. Gritt released their full-length album, Ancestors, on April 16, 2021 on Coax Records. 

Register: https://forms.gle/BU1dhLngPyi7xdieA

All events will be recorded for later viewing